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Trans woman tragically died by suicide after being ‘constantly fobbed off’ by mental health services

Emma Powys Maurice October 19, 2020
Trans woman Alexandra Greenway

Trans woman Alexandra Greenway, who tragically died by suicide in May 2019 (Inquest.org.uk)

A trans woman tragically took her own life after being passed “from pillar to post” by mental health services, a coroner’s court was told.

Alexandra Greenway, a 23-year-old recruitment consultant, was found dead in her Bristol flat on May 11, 2019, having waited in vain for the talking therapy she needed.

A month earlier she was detained after another suspected suicide attempt and taken to a psychiatric hospital, after which a consultant psychiatrist wrote to her GP recommending the therapy. But at the time of her death, no treatment had been arranged.

“The fact is people keep dying, and they die because the treatment doesn’t materialise,” the Guardian reports Greenway’s mother, Jacqueline, telling Avon coroner’s court.

“Alexandra had complex needs that were not fully explored. She felt constantly marginalised and fobbed off.

“There are too many people waiting for CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy]. They just didn’t have the capacity. Alexandra didn’t see any signs of the CBT materialising, she couldn’t wait any longer, that’s why we believe she took her own life. All services appeared to be under too much pressure.”

Greenway also experienced “a long and difficult road in achieving gender reassignment surgery”, and was left waiting so long for treatment that she felt forced to self-medicate with costly hormones she bought from abroad.

The inquest was told that after her first apparent suicide attempt police officers tried to call their own mental health triage team, but nobody was on duty. They decided to detain her under the Mental Health Act, but with no hospital beds available in Bristol she was instead taken to a secure psychiatric unit in Wiltshire.

Greenway was discharged the same day with a recommendation that she received CBT. She was relieved at the idea that she was finally going to get the treatment she needed, but she died weeks later without having spoken to anyone.

Giving evidence, her parents said they felt she had been passed from “pillar to post” as she sought help for her mental health issues.

“We are left with what-ifs,” said Jacqueline. “We can’t move on from that grief and frustration.”

She called on the area coroner, Peter Harrowing, to make sure that action was taken to “make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else again”.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected]

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

More: Bristol, mental health, Samaritans, suicide

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